Penny Pinchers


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Frugal Friday Links: Camping!

By Julie Norman
Friday, June 20, 2014

Tis the season for camping!  Let's face it, you COULD plan a trip to Disney World or a week at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun, but camping is way cheaper and, in the end, probably way less stressful.  This weekend for a friend's birthday, instead of planning a fancy trip somewhere we decided to do what we all love: go camping!  For $18 we can rent a site in Ridgway that is secluded and roomy enough for 2 tents.  We can hike, visit the Wiesbaden vapor caves and enjoy an evening of yummy campfire drinks and snacks without worrying too much about our wallets.  Really isn't the point to spend time with your friends and family without the stress of work?  We're planning to take our lunch on Saturday and snacks for hiking on Sunday, and then enjoy dinner out Saturday and breakfast out Sunday.  Why not?  We just saved a ton of money by choosing to camp in the first place! Now we can splurge on dinner for our friend!

photo from thinkstock.com

The best thing about camping is that many campgrounds in Colorado and around the country allow you to make reservations.  You can look at pictures of the sites, see maps of the campground and find the site that works best for you (secluded, close to the bathroom, away from RVs, whatever)

For information on reserving campsites, you can visit ReserveAmerica.com or Recreation.gov

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“Fancy” dinners on the cheap

By Julie Norman
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The pesto below was just part of a "fancy" seeming meal I made for dinner the other night.  I discovered, while making it, that yet again those meals that seem expensive can actually be made quite cheaply at home.  For the whole rundown, click the image.

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Saving money at festivals

By Julie Norman
Tuesday, June 17, 2014

We spent most of our Saturday out in Palisade at the Bluegrass Festival.  It was a great day for it; the temps were cool, there was some cloud cover, and there was only a brief period where it seemed to be raining cotton.  We love this festival and have been fortunate to get discounted or complimentary tickets each year, which helps to defray costs considerably!  Still, this year we really overspent on food at the festival.  If we'd been thinking, we would have brought more of our own snacks, etc.  So, for next year we've decided to plan a little better and save ourselves some extra money at the festival.  How do we plan to do that?

  • We already take water bottles because the festival provides a huge container of drinking water.  You simply walk over, fill up your bottle, and go on with your day. Free!
  • Check the festival's rules on what can and cannot be brought in.  At the Palisade Bluegrass Festival, the only thing not allowed in is alcohol.  There is plenty of that for sale inside.  BUT there are no restrictions on food! 

So for us, the easiest thing to do next year will be to bring a small cooler with some substantial snacks, etc in it so we won't be tempted by all the good smells wafting from the food carts.  Sure it tastes good, but it's not good for me or my wallet!  We can bring in even fancy snacks like speciality cheeses or hummus, deli meats like salami or pastrami and good rye bread.  Who needs a Nathan's 1/4 lb hotdog when I've got an entire antipasto platter right in my cooler?

Sure, we'll still splurge on drinks, because who can say no to a yummy beverage from the Palisade Distillery? But on food?  No. We're done with that. It'll be the same for us at the Riverfront Concerts this summer too.  We'll take in our own food and then spend a few bucks on a beer or two.  That way we get the best of both worlds! 

So how can you apply this to your own festivals or even to theme parks?

  • Check to see what is allowed inside. Can you take a cooler? An empty water bottle? Some festivals might say "no coolers" but even that doesn't really restrict you from bringing in other snacks and such that don't need to be refrigerated.
  • Can you leave the festival or park once you enter?  If so, and if you're parked close by, you could leave your cooler in the car, along with some chairs, and just head back there when it's time for lunch. This way you get a break from the festival/park atmosphere and you still don't have to pay exorbitant prices for food.
  • Are there cheaper eating places close by?  I know people who visit Stoker Stadium for events but then walk over to Arby's or McDonald's to buy food because it's cheaper.  So maybe that's an option as well.

The most important thing is just to check first with what's allowed and what's not.  Then you can make a plan of action.  Perhaps if you have to eat in the park you can plan to just have a light lunch and then eat a big dinner after you leave.  Even that will save a little money.  Plan ahead and you'll be able to enjoy a great festival without gritting your teeth over food costs.

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Frugal Friday Links: Make your own burger buns

By Julie Norman
Friday, June 13, 2014

Honestly, burger buns are pretty darn cheap and probably it's not any cheaper to make them at home...but the Frugal Girl posted this link in a blog post and well, I just can't help myself!  I think I'm going to make these soon and if you are at all interested in making more stuff at home and buying less at the store, then you should try them too!  Click the image to get the recipe.

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Backpack Penny Pinching

By Julie Norman
Monday, June 9, 2014

We take at least one backpack trip every year and usually our dinners consist of Mountain House dehydrated meals.  There's nothing wrong with the taste...what there IS something wrong with is the price! Each meal costs between $7 and $8.  If we take a third person then we usually end up with 2 meals a night. So that's $14 a night in food...over 4 nights...we've just spend $56 on food for BACKPACKING!  This year I've decided to take a different approach and this weekend I started figuring out how.

Safeway had O Organics blueberries on sale for super cheap because of "overstock" clearance. So I bought 2 small packages and dehydrated them.  These, along with a box of Safeway plain instant oatmeal, will be part of our "design your own oatmeal" breakfast.  I also plan to mix up a baggie of sugar, cinnamon and butter buds.  This is cheaper than Mountain House granola...honestly for all the blueberries and oatmeal I probably spent $6.  That should give us 2 meals; $3 per meal; $1 per person per meal.  The Mountain House granola is probably $5 a bag. And one bag feeds 1-2 people.

I had a FREE offer for a Horizon organics mac and cheese.  We're going to use that as a tester product to see how well the noodles rehydrate when just sitting in boiling water.  Then, if it works, we'll buy a cheaper mac and cheese and create a second meal with that.   I also bought a pound of ground beef yesterday (backpacking meals are supposed to be cheap, though they aren't always the healthiest...) for $2.44.  I browned the ground beef and dehydrated it.  We're going to combine that with a Hamburger Helper mix ($1.66) for another meal.  So that entire meal will cost us $3.66 for 3 people. I mean...an entire box of Hamburger Helper for 3 people? We should be stuffed!

Finally I plan to use a box of cous cous with seasoning.  It ONLY takes boiling water to rehydrate and we can then add some dried veggies (I've got peppers, onions and potatoes in the freezer) and a package of vacuum sealed chicken, for a third great meal.  Now we're down to one Mountain House meal, and if I can come up with another idea, we won't even need that! 

Even though some of these are still processed meals, I feel a little better about them.  I can add tons of veggies to these and I actually just remembered I've got some broccoli bits leftover from dinner the other night...those would be great in my Mac and Cheese meal!  Over the winter I dehydrated peaches and berries, so we've got plenty for our oatmeal.   I am hoping we'll discover a whole new way of cooking in the backcountry with some new and different "homemade" meals.

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Page 7 of 23




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